Indonesia will not allow the ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to spread within its borders and will block access to pro-ISIS sites online and on social media, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said.
The religious affairs and foreign ministries will also be involved in combating the ISIS threat, he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on security matters yesterday.
The minister's comments are the toughest on the subject of extremism in recent months in Indonesia, and come as security is tightened ahead of Independence Day celebrations on Aug 17, and as reports of groups of hard-liners swearing allegiance to ISIS in parts of Indonesia raise concerns.
"The government rejects and will not allow the teachings of ISIS to grow in Indonesia," Mr Djoko said, adding that ISIS was not compatible with the basic fundamentals of Indonesia, which include the principle of unity in diversity.
"In fact, many Muslim groups, hard-line as well as moderate, do not agree with the existence of ISIS' teachings in Indonesia. We appreciate their response, which shows there is a high degree of caution," he added.
Of particular concern was a photo circulating online over the weekend that showed firebrand radical Abu Bakar Bashir, founder of Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, apparently swearing allegiance to ISIS alongside a group of men in the Nusakambangan prison, where over 40 terror inmates are held.
Yesterday, director-general of correctional facilities Handoyo Sudrajat confirmed that the photo was taken in a prayer room in the prison, and was a misuse of the space. He told reporters he had also received reports that several inmates were drawn to ISIS and prison officials were now stepping up their guard.
But Mr Djoko said he had information that Bashir's son did not agree with ISIS, though his father had expressed support for the movement in a letter. Mr Djoko also said that when interviewed by the police, Bashir did not admit to supporting ISIS and sought to give a different stand.
Mr Djoko said that even as every attempt to spread ISIS teachings had to be stopped, Indonesians had to respect that their country was not an Islamic state but one based on the concept of diversity.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia would do what it could to prevent its citizens from fighting in conflicts in the Middle East.
Religious affairs minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said his ministry would invite leaders from a range of Muslim groups to discuss a common response to ISIS.
"What is clear is this is a radical, militant organisation... that is a threat to our unity as a nation," he said.
This article was published on Aug 5 in The Straits Times.
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